The BJU family invites the greater Greenville community to join in celebrating the incarnation of Jesus Christ with this year’s Christmas-themed Living Gallery.
Performances will be held in Rodeheaver Auditorium this evening at 4:30 and 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2, 4:30 and 8 p.m.
With the addition of spring break to second semester, Living Gallery has moved from the Easter season to Christmas this year.
With the new date comes the fresh theme “Nine Lessons and Carols,” which is based on the famous program observed in King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England.
Instead of a traditional drama interspersed with the art pieces, nine scripture readings proclaim the gospel and the Christmas story from Genesis to John.
Music recordings have recently accompanied BJU’s Living Gallery pieces, but this year the music will be sung live by the BJU Chorale conducted by Dr. Warren Cook.
Additionally, the audience will participate in a number of songs as they follow the Scripture reading in the second half.
While it is not unusual for one or two art pieces to be added to the program each year in order to display variety, because of this year’s Christmas theme, more pieces were needed to complete a full program. Five new paintings were selected—three of which are 19th century impressionistic paintings.
Amanda Ross, first year graduate student in theological studies with an undergraduate degree in graphic design, has been on the Living Gallery makeup crew for six years.
Just as different eras implemented different styles of painting, makeup artists must implement different styles as well.
“The one I’m working on this year is actually using the crème makeup, so that’s more like stage makeup,” Ross said. “Some of the sculptures, you paint [people] a solid color and then you stipple with texture.”
Ross also said the stained glass pieces require their own style. “[Stained glass models are] painted really brightly colored [and] under the black lights they glow and the colors are really bright and fluorescent,” Ross said.
Ron Pyle, the department head of theatre arts, has worked closely with the stage, music and art designers to prepare for the productions.
“I think it’s important for us to recognize that artists in every time period have interpreted Scriptural events according to their own era; the same thing is going on with the Renaissance paintings,” Pyle said.
Lewis Carl, a faculty member in the art department, is the featured artist responsible for recreating the three impressionist paintings. He has participated in six productions of Living Gallery and is responsible for two of the stained glass pieces he created 14 years ago that will be featured this year as well.
Carl said he enjoys seeing his work impact others. He recalled his experience as a tableau/stage artist, sitting next to a model in one of his stain glass pieces during a performance and peering through an opening. For Carl, focusing on the audiences’ expressions rather than being still or having his eyes closed like the model, impacted him more than any verbal praise for his work.
“I’ve never actually been a model for Living Gallery; I’ve always been someone that’s just behind the scenes, and I actually prefer it that way—to see that so many people enjoy something that I enjoy creating,” Carl said.
Nathanael Johnson, a sophomore communication major, is a model in Annunciation to the Shepherds. “A lot more people come to Living Gallery as opposed to a lot of other plays [at BJU],” Johnson said. “There’s also a very [strong] spiritual aspect—the true Christmas story.”
With close to 14,000 visitors expected, Johnson said he is excited to have a ministry to so many who may not have a true understanding of the Gospel.